Czech troops stationed in Kosovo as part of the KFOR multinational peace-keeping force, were called in on Thursday to reinforce local police units during a rally held at a border crossing between Serbia and Kosovo. It was their first call to action in newly independent Kosovo, unsettled by escalating Serbian protests.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek is expected to sign a visa-waiver memorandum during his visit to the United States next week. The memorandum between the Czech government and the US Department of Homeland Security is likely to result in the abolition of tourist visas for Czech citizens before the end of 2008. The European Union has criticized the Czech Republic for bilateral negotiations with the United States over the visa-waiver programme.
Joseph Carrano and John Moore, the two American citizens arrested in Prostějov, South Moravia, in the beginning of October for overstaying the 90-day visa-free period, are currently detained in a facility for illegal aliens and are facing deportation. They initially applied for asylum in the country to avoid it but have recently withdrawn their application. They are not seeking international protection, just the chance to stay with their family in the Czech Republic. They say they have been treated unfairly by the Czech authorities, and they don’t
The Czech Republic remains reserved towards recognizing Kosovo as an independent country. After the former Serbian province proclaimed independence on Sunday, Czech diplomats said they would wait for a common EU strategy on the issue. But a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday failed to reach any joint policy towards Kosovo, and the Czech Foreign Ministry has set down its own conditions for the recognition of Kosovo.
Prague will wait for the European Union to agree a common standpoint on Kosovo’s declaration of independence and then proceed in accord with the EU’s position, a Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said. However, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra said it would be very difficult for the bloc to agree on a joint stance, given that some states were opposed to Sunday’s historic decision by Kosovo’s parliament; Mr Vondra said it was more likely that individual EU states would adopt their own positions, with some of its biggest members likely to recognise Kosovo’s independence in the very near future.
The Czech Republic’s efforts to win visa-free travel to the United States for its citizens do not contravene the country’s obligations towards the European Union, Alexandr Vondra said on Sunday. Mr Vondra said Washington regarded the EU as an association of independent states and discussed the abolition of visa requirements with them individually. The Social Democrats’ shadow foreign minister Lubomír Zaoralek has said Prague’s individual approach destroyed EU unity; he also described the Czech Republic as servile towards the US.
Czech authorities have detained two American citizens who overstayed the 90-day period for which no visas are required. The Americans arrived in Prague in October last year and failed to leave the country in time. After being detained by the Czech Foreigners Police in the town of Prostějov, South Moravia, with pending deportation charges, they applied for asylum in the Czech Republic.
Twenty years after the fall of communism Czechs are on the verge of being included on a list of countries in the US visa-waiver programme. It allows tourists and businesspeople from abroad to travel visa-free to the US. Although the move was expected, a US senior official in Prague on Wednesday, confirmed it could come sooner: as early as this autumn. A bilateral agreement still needs to be signed, as well as a new electronic system implemented, before the change takes place, but essentially there is nothing that should now prevent the move from
An agreement between the Czech Republic and the United States on the deployment of a tracking radar on Czech territory, part of an American anti-missile defence system, could soon be concluded. A Pentagon spokesperson said on Tuesday that a final deal could be struck within weeks. Czech officials have been more careful to set a date: the Foreign Ministry expects negotiations with the US to be finalized before a NATO summit in Bucharest in early April.
Both sides of the missile defence debate wheeled out their big guns in Prague this week, and for the “anti” camp the secret weapon is Philip Coyle, one of America’s leading experts on missile defence technology. Mr Coyle, who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration and was in charge of all weapons testing at the Pentagon from 1994 to 2001, has worked on missiles and how to stop them for the last 40 years. Today he’s a senior adviser to the Washington-based Center for Defence Information, and is a leading opponent
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